“We value the overall positioning of the Assembly of the Republic, which was able to listen to citizens and approach their demands, acknowledged Bianca Matos, ANP|WFF consultant, who recalls that the changes to the law resulted from harsh criticism from environmental organisations and citizen movements in the face of the regulation and management of mining carried out by the Government”.
However, the new diploma “falls far short of expectations”, points out the environmentalist, explaining that “what happens in the extraction - one of the starting points of the ore value chain - is decisive for its responsible use and for the promotion of transition energy, in a principle of economic development that must be based on clean technologies, renewable energies and circular flows of materials”.
Associação Natureza Portugal (ANP) - which works in association with the international World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), one of the world's largest organisations for environmental conservation - recalls that it presented to the Assembly of the Republic “a set of concerns to be addressed in the parliamentary appreciation” of the diploma, but “several were left out”.
For example, the organisation considers it “an error” not to include the “requirement of a Monitoring Committee and an Environmental Impact Assessment in any exploration scenario” in the new statute.
Another “error” was also not to provide “a fund to be managed in a participatory way by the municipalities and communities affected by the concession of explorations”, which could be “used to improve local socio-environmental conditions”.
Among “the most relevant achievements”, the ANF-WWP highlights “the clarification that the proposals must exclude from its scope the areas that are part of the National Network of Protected Areas, the areas included in the Natura 2000 Network and the areas classified under instruments of international law”.
The new law also contains the “obligation” to hold “public information sessions aimed at populations in territories covered by mineral exploration”.
The diploma also includes the guarantee that the concession of the right of exploitation only occurs “provided that a favourable decision, or a conditional favourable one, is obtained in the context of an environmental impact assessment”.